06 December 2022

The anticoagulant apixaban does not help patients recovering from moderate and severe COVID-19, according to new findings.

The HEAL-COVID trial (Helping to Alleviate the Longer-term consequences of COVID-19), led by Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge, found apixaban does not stop COVID patients from later dying or being readmitted to hospital over the following year.

More than 1,000 NHS patients across the country who needed hospital treatment for the virus took part in HEAL-COVID. The researchers said as well as a lack of efficacy, a small number of the 402 patients who received apixaban experienced major bleeding, which resulted in them having to discontinue the treatment.

The HEAL-COVID platform trial will now go on to test atorvastatin, a statin that acts on other mechanisms of disease that are thought to be important in COVID-19.

The trial’s chief investigator, Professor Charlotte Summers, an intensive care specialist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the University of Cambridge, said: “Having survived the ordeal of being hospitalised with COVID-19, far too many patients find themselves back in hospital, often developing longer-term complications as a result of the virus.

“There is an urgent need for us to find treatments that prevent this significant burden of illness and improve the lives of so many still being affected by COVID.

“These first findings from HEAL-COVID show us that a blood thinning drug, commonly thought to be a useful intervention in the post-hospital phase is actually ineffective at stopping people dying or being readmitted to hospital.

“This finding is important because it will prevent unnecessary harm occurring to people for no benefit. It also means we must continue our search for therapies that improve longer term recovery for this devastating disease.”

Professor Nick Lemoine, clinical research network medical director at the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), which is funding the trial, added: “Research into COVID-19 recovery remains vital as we move out of the pandemic. Results such as these from the HEAL-COVID study, help to strengthen our knowledge of how patients can be treated following their stay in hospital and how recovery rates can be improved upon.”

Source: University of Cambridge


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